Phoenix Suns in no hurry to make a splash, plan on ‘disciplined’ approach to rebuilding team into a contender


PHOENIX — Lon Babby wants the Phoenix Suns to be an elite team.

To him, that defines a squad “that’s going to legitimately compete for championships every year.”

“That’s what we aspire to, that’s what we work towards every single day that we’re here,” he said.

In actuality, the Suns are a .500 team after consecutive seasons in which they missed the playoffs with a combined record two games below that mark.

So the billion dollar question is, how do the Suns transform from a perfectly mediocre team with a 38-year-old star to a team that can “legitimately compete for championships,” as they did during the SSOL era?

If I had that answer I would probably be working in the Suns’ front office rather than running a Suns blog, but I can report that during an hour-long chat with the media on Wednesday Babby laid out his vision predicated on patience and making smart decisions to build the Suns “brick by brick” into the aforementioned powerhouse.

The most important point Babby made is that the Suns won’t rush into bad deals just to make a splash because they have money to spend. Or in other words, they will do the exact opposite of the Summer of 2010 post-Amare.

“We have cap space, but cap space doesn’t mean you’re going to go out and sign free agents,” said Babby, whose team has just over $30 million in commitments for next season. “It could also mean that we’re going to make one-sided trades, and there’s a distinct possibility we don’t use our cap room this summer because we’ve worked hard to put ourselves in this position to have this kind of flexibility, to have a range of opportunities, but I am absolutely determined that we’re going to be disciplined in how we approach this because we cannot get ourselves right back in the same spot that we were in by doing bad contracts, not assessing value properly, not making the right choices in terms of personnel.”

Babby later went on to say, “We’re not on any artificial time frame.  If the opportunities are there, we’re going to seize them, but we’re going to make decisions that we feel are going to put us in position to be elite, which again is about competing every year for a championship. I’m not interested in patching it up and getting good for a year or even two without making progress. It may be that we make the decision that we kind of do a little bit of what we did last year and wait a year and keep our powder dry and be as competitive as we can be. We’ll see how that plays out. We have to make the decisions from the standpoint of not only what’s good for us today but what’s going to be good for us tomorrow.”

I can already foresee some of the objections in the comments about this being “just another way for the Suns to be cheap,” but personally I could not agree more with this line of thinking.

We learned in the Summer of Amare what happens when you rush into decisions and make moves just because you have money. All of a sudden you end up with Turkoglu, Warrick, Childress and Frye at bloated numbers.

The Suns will do their due diligence, and if they can add that star power then they will. However, a quick glance at the list of free agents this summer will tell you how unlikely that is.

Babby reiterated Steve Nash’s demand that the Suns’ biggest need is “another dynamic weapon on offense wherever that might be whether it’s at the wing or down low.” This has been an issue since Amare left, and until the Suns find such an offense player to pair with Nash it’s hard to see them getting too much closer to elite status.

Eric Gordon is the one dynamic offensive player who could be available through restricted free agency, and based on the fact that Alvin Gentry has often gone out of his way to heap praise on Gordon in the past, I fully expect the Suns to pursue the Hornets’ guard, as well they should.

But the biggest mistake the Suns could make is to strike out with guys like Gordon and Nicolas Batum (who isn’t leaving Portland I wouldn’t imagine) and then tossing dollars at the next Josh Childress, as Babby clearly understands.

“Look, I’ve taken advantage of this situation as an agent,” Babby said. “When you’ve got a team that can’t get what they want, can’t get their first choice, and the pressure builds to do something you get teams to make some very bad decisions, and we’re not going to do that because I’m not going to sell false hope.”

After pointing out how much the Suns’ players said they enjoyed playing in Phoenix during their exit interviews, Babby also addressed “some skepticism about our ability to attract free agents, which I was an agent, and I don’t get it why anyone wouldn’t want to play here and I don’t believe for one minute that they don’t want to play here.”

We will soon find out, and if nobody wants to play here and nothing else works out then the Suns will duplicate their 2011-12 strategy and sign one-year deals to delay their cap bonanza for another offseason.

In the meantime the Suns will take advantage of all the other potential options for teams with cap space, which includes making lopsided trades with teams desperate to dump money and potentially even winning an amnesty auction.

Whereas during the crucial summer two seasons ago the Suns seemed to enter without a plan once Amare fled and flung their money around recklessly, this time they know exactly how they want to fill their cap room if not the specifics.

The NBA is a star’s league, and a glance at the current elite teams (think Miami, Chicago, OKC, San Antonio, the Lakers) shows multiple stars at the top for each squad.

That the Suns plan on being fiscally responsible and taking their time to make smart, savvy moves is fantastic, but along the way they must add another dynamic player to depart the treadmill of mediocrity and accelerate their return to the ranks of the elite.

And 1

Along with his comments on Steve Nash’s situation that Zim wrote about yesterday, Babby discussed the following potential personnel moves:

  • It is “quite likely, if not certain” that the Suns will match any offer to restricted free agent Robin Lopez. It kind of sounded like he was trying to send a message through the media to scare off other teams from making an attractive offer to Robin, so I would not be surprised if this becomes less certain once an offer reaches a certain threshold.
  • The team will extend a qualifying offer to Aaron Brooks to preserve his rights. He cannot be dealt in a sign-and-trade because he wasn’t on the roster last season.
  • Babby would be “disappointed” if Grant Hill wore another team’s uniform, but he was fairly confident that if Hill does not retire he will be wearing purple and orange next fall.
  • The Suns will consider using the amnesty clause if it helps them make a corresponding advantageous move. If they end up saving their powder for next offseason, it would make sense to save it for Childress down the road at that point.

Tags: Lon Babby

  • Scott

    Who was responsible for the Dragic/Brooks trade? Was it Babby or Blanks?

    My impression has been that Blanks calls the shots about who to have on the roster. Blanks is also the one who said Dragic couldn’t play, whereas Babby later expressed regret about the trade.

    So I hear Babby saying the right things, and I liked the trade with Orlando that moved Turkoglu, netted Gortat, and created cap room. I tend to associate that trade with Babby.

    I hear Blanks say the wrong things, and I attribute the Dragic trade to him.

    But I have no idea who is really responsible for what.

  • Ty-Sun

    Unfortunately, next year’s FA market doesn’t look a lot better than this year. It is better but I don’t see any “name ” players that I’m certain want to leave their present teams with the possible exceptions of Dwight Howard and Monta Ellis.

    Hopefully this draft will actually be as deep as they say it’s going to be and the Suns can at least draft a solid player at 13 if they don’t get very lucky and move up to one of the 1st 3 spots in the lottery (and no one including me is counting on that).

    I do think that there are some very good, solid players that are FAs this year and the Suns should at least make reasonable offers to a few of them as long as they do as they say they are going to do and not grossly overpay anyone.

  • http://jtshoopsblog.blogspot.com JT’s Hoops Blog

    Lon Babby knows that they will have to cut off a lot of dead weight. Hill and Nash are as good as gone, but the Suns are still a roster filled with mediocre players with long contracts

  • Tony

    Babby said, “…there’s a distinct possibility we don’t use our cap room this summer…” In case this may seem ambiguous or non-committal, I will translate this statement. “We have no interest in spending the necessary amount to make this team a contender next season.” The Three Stooges strike again!! This time by Stooge#2! Wasn’t this the same person who said prior to the start of this season that they were willing to sign only 1-year players so as to take advantage of signing elite players this off-season? So now we are supposed to wait another season for Sarver to open up his wallet??

    Suns fans should refrain from spending a penny to support Sarver until he shows us a willingness to spend the necessary amount for a contending team. Furthermore, contending does not mean a fringe playoff team that has no chance of making it to the 2nd round but rather, a team with a legitimate chance of winning an NBA title. The Suns were 21st in home attendance this past season, I hope they move to 28th next season if Sarver and Babby do not dramatically improve this team or otherwise show their committment to putting together a contending team.

  • Ty-Sun

    ” … a roster filled with mediocre players with long contracts”.

    Gortat (2 more years), Dudley (4 more), Frye (3 more), Warrick (2 more), Childress (3 more) and Morris (3 more).

    Gortat is a legit NBA starter. Dudley and Frye are borderline starters/backups. Morris hasnts had enough time to show where he stands but so far he looks like a solid backup at least. Childress and Warrick are busts without a doubt. You could also add Telfair to this list but his second year isn’t guaranteed and he’s proven to be a solid backup too. The Suns can let everyone else go next year if they want.

    I just don’t see “a roster FILLED with mediocre players with long contracts” here.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    @Tony I’ve been waiting for your comment, and you may have even noticed a pre-emptive strike against it in the actual article. I understand how and why you feel that way, but if they can’t sign a big fish what other choice do they have? Would you rather them sign the next Childress and Warrick or save their money for smart moves, which could involve lopsided trades or amnesty auctions. And again, he didn’t say that’s what they will do, just they won’t panic like they did two years ago.

    I get the counter argument and you have every right to feel that way, but a dumb signing is worse than no signing at all.

  • Tony

    @Michael,

    Haha! Am I becoming that predictable? Lol!

    Not surprisingly, I completely disagree with your take on Babby’s comments. The problem I have with your take is your inference that we should reward frugal ownership. We, as Suns fans, should have an expectation that the front office will do whatever is necessary to put together a contending team. But when the front office personnel talk about not using their available cap room to seriously improve the roster immediately, it’s just code that they have no intention in doing what’s necessary to put together a championship team.

    Furthermore, Babby’s remarks seem to be completely at odds with his public stance on retaining Nash and Nash’s own comments about resigning. In particular, Nash repeatedly has said he wants major upgrades in talent on the roster before he reups with the Suns. Yet, we can reasonably infer from Babby’s comments that they are not going to make those necessary upgrades to retain Nash. As a consequence, that likely means Nash is gone. If that is the case, that will mean the Suns front office allowed Amare, Marion, JJ, and now Nash to walk and got nothing of value in return. (I don’t include the Marion for Shaq trade because Shaq was soon after traded to the Cavs for absolutely nothing).

    Lastly, we should not reward or otherwise praise the Suns front office for anything until they show us they deserve it. By praising Babby for publicly admitting that it’s a distinct possibility they don’t make a major splash in free agency, you are in essence rewarding them for putting together yet another lottery team, probably comparable to how bad the Bobcats were this season when you consider the likely Suns roster next season. If this happens, the Suns will have gone three straight seasons without making the playoffs and four out of the last five overall. We should never praise failure and respectfully, that is what I infer from your comments.

  • Raja

    Here’s my question, if Sarver and Babby are now publicly stating that the Suns are going to be cheap-asses, why didn’t we deal Nash for SOMETHING earlier this year?

    Sarver is the reason the Suns are even in this position. Joe Johnson, Marion, Amare, Nash – the Suns basically got nothing in return for some of the greatest players the Suns have ever had…all thanks to Sarver being a cheap bastard.

  • Raja

    @Tony

    You much more eloquently stated my exact feelings.

    I’m sick of the Suns front office and owner getting a pass when they are destroying such a great franchise. Look at what has happened since ’04 (when Sarver took over)…as far as personnel decisions went…it’s lazy ownership and terrible management.

  • steve

    @Michael – “a dumb signing is worse than no signing at all.”

    I couldn’t agree more. As someone who has bashed the Childress signing (and Warrick, and Turk) as being a move that signed a mediocre player to too large of a contract, there’s no way I could hold that position if I then called for the Suns to spend big on this mediocre class of free agents.

    There isn’t a game-changer in this class, and it’s actually quite rare for game-changers to become available in free agency. They’re almost always signed to extensions before they reach free agency (or have no real intention of leaving their teams in the first place). Nash (who wasn’t viewed as a true game-changer when he became a free agent), LeBron… I can’t actually think of any other franchise cornerstone type guys who left their teams in free agency in recent memory. I’m sure there might be a couple of others, but the point stands. It’s rare to get a franchise superstar in free agency.

    If the Suns are going to make any big moves, it’s going to have to be through the trade market, and none of us have any idea what types of possibilities might be out there for trades. Personally, I couldn’t be happier with what Babby said. Now I just hope he’s smart enough to realize he was right and act on his words.

  • steve

    @Raja

    “Here’s my question, if Sarver and Babby are now publicly stating that the Suns are going to be cheap-asses, why didn’t we deal Nash for SOMETHING earlier this year?”

    The Suns did get something for Nash. They got a playoff race, a team that finished strong, and a reason to go watch them play in person.

    From virtually every possible perspective, it was smarter to keep Steve Nash than to trade him. After all, what do you think the Suns could have reasonably expected in return for a 38-year-old PG who expressed feelings of dissatisfaction with the franchise during the year? A second-round pick? A little bit of cash? It’s not like Miami would have handed us Chris Bosh and called it good.

    “Look at what has happened since ’04 (when Sarver took over)…as far as personnel decisions went…it’s lazy ownership and terrible management.”

    Since Sarver took over the Suns made it to 3 WCF’s with wildly different rosters. That’s what happened. I don’t credit Sarver for that (or the past owner). Owners don’t really have a significant role in personnel decisions. I credit the players for playing up to their talent level (Nash especially), the coaches for implementing the correct system to get the most out of the team offensively, and the many personnel people the Suns have had over the past 8 years who brought in the key players who helped the Suns make those runs (Raja Bell, Kurt Thomas, Tim Thomas, Diaw, Amundson, Barbosa, Dudley, Richardson, Lopez, etc).

  • Tony

    @Raja,

    Thanks for the comments, I also agree with your sentiments exactly. The day Sarver took over this once proud and elite franchise, was the beginning of the end.
    FYI, just in case you haven’t noticed yet, but there are some ridiculously staunch Sarver-supporters posting here who will proclaim that despite inheriting an all-star roster in Amare, Marion, JJ, and Nash, that Sarver should get the credit for the Suns WCFs appearances! By this troll’s logic, Colangelo gets no credit for the Suns WCFs appearances, despite being the one to draft, recruit, or sign these players, and all of the credit should go to the guy who had nothing to do with bringing those players aboard. With that being said, this is the same person who called Shaq one of the NBA’s greatest shooters!! So obviously, his credibility is in question.

  • grover

    Small detail… Can somebody explain to me the difference in job description between Babby and Blanks? I haven’t figured out exactly what each one does.

    I agree with Steve’s statement. I don’t know what Babby could have said to be more dead on point for what the Suns should do. That doesnt mean I’m convinced he’ll be able to execute on it, but I can think of anything where he clearly missed the point. I guess there is an argument that Nash should in no way shape or form be a part of the Suns future plans… I don’t subscribe to that but I know that some do. I’m more pragmatic – there aren’t many good point guards out there and we know for sure Nash is good, so I see him as a good solution particularly given his historic meaning to the franchise.

  • grover

    Raja – small correction. Sarver is stupid, not cheap. Those of us who are cheap are offended by you lumping Sarver in with us.

  • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    @Grover Blanks does all the personnel evaluation and Babby does all the contracts and negotiation. Since Babby is the “president of basketball operations” and Blanks is the “general manager,” I believe Babby is higher on the org chart. I would also assume that means Babby has final say, but I’m not sure since Blanks is the talent eval guy. Like with the draft it certainly seems like Blanks/Treloar run the show, but as far as organizational vision and free agency plan it certainly seems like Babby is in charge. As Sarver explained here, he wants the combo of Babby/Blanks to be responsible for talent evaluation (Blanks), contract negotiation (Babby), understanding the collective bargaining agreement (Babby) and communicating with players (Blanks or potentially both).

  • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    @Tony Haha, yes, you have become that predictable. I know your opinion on this and I know you aren’t budging.

    You make a good point when comparing where the Suns were in 2004-05 with where they are now, but that’s not the issue at hand. Nobody is debating whether the Suns could have made smarter decisions these past eight years. We all know mistakes were made although at the same time they were still good enough to make the WCF in Year 6 of that with an almost completely different team than they had in Year 1.

    The question is, “What now?” Throwing money at mid-level talent will only make you complain more in the long run. I really don’t want to get into a Sarver debate because I know where you stand on him but as Grover pointed out the problem two years ago was not Sarver being cheap, it was the team spending it on the wrong players. Now Babby has come out and said that won’t happen again, which is why I take this news as a positive. The Suns would be in a much better place if that were the plan two years ago.

    Also, keep in mind that Babby/Blanks weren’t installed until after that disastrous offseason so right now their record is largely one fantastic move (Gortat trade) and one atrocious one (Dragon/Brooks). Last offseason was a wash since they basically punted any important decisions to this offseason. I agree they have a long way to go to really gain the public’s trust, but I certainly find Babby’s plan to be sound and feel much more comfortable with this than not having any GM or seemingly any plan after Amare left two years ago.

  • Tony

    @Grover,

    Blanks is the GM and Babby is the President of the Suns organization. Theoretically, Blanks is the talent evaluator and Babby is the one making the financial decisions. The problem with the model Sarver created, which was one of the reasons no established GM wanted to work for the Suns, besides of course their disdain for Sarver, is that Blanks is basically a glorified scout without any autonomy. As such, his legitimacy in the eyes of players’ agents must be in question because they know Babby’s the one really calling the shots. Of course, Blanks did say that Dragic “is a better person than basketball player.” And choosing Brooks over Dragic does make me question his ability to correctly evaluate talent, but that’s besides the point.

    By the way, small correction; Sarver is not only stupid, but cheap as well. Not signing any franchise players and dumping JJ, Amare, and Shaq were purely motivated by financial concerns without regard to how it would affect the team. He also had no intention of resigning J-Rich either, as evidenced by the fact that prior to his trade, Richardson stated that his agent hadn’t heard one word from Sarver about extending his client. Contrary to what others might and have said, selling draft picks was solely for saving money as was using those picks as trade bait to lower the team’s salary.

  • steve

    A copy/paste from the previous discussion, since it has now become relevant:

    Just a few comments about Scott’s post a while back (which, by the way, was that really you, Scott? I would never expect you to misspell “Stoudemire,” but I do know someone who has misspelled “Griffin” about five times in one post). I’ll bring up some names that were new to the team (note, I said “new.” I don’t want to take the time to try to find out if these guys were traded to Phoenix or acquired in FA. My main point here is to say that established players are much more expensive than rookies) in the year of the sold draft picks and compare the salary of said new player to the salary of said rookie.

    Deng – What were the circumstances surrounding Jahidi White’s arrival to the Valley? Jahidi cost the Suns $5.7M from the free agent pool in a season where Deng, the 7th overall pick, would have cost them $2.2M. A top 10 pick cost just $2.2M, while a free agent who had been nothing but average his entire career cost $5.7M.

    Nate Robinson – Nate made $1.1M in his rookie season. That same year, the Suns signed Q and Howard Eisley for $5.8M and $5.2M, respectively. I think Voshkul might have been new that year as well, and he made $1.7M. $1.1M for a rookie, $12.7M for established players.

    Sergio Rodriguez & Rondo – Sergio made $912,000 in his rookie campaign, while Rondo made $1.1M. Kurt Thomas ($6.6M), Raja Bell ($4.3M), Jim Jackson ($2.6M), James Jones ($2.4M), Brian Grant ($1.7M), and Boris Diaw ($1.2M) were all new to the team that year. $2M for two first round picks, $18.8M for established players.

    Rudy Fernandez – $1.1M in his rookie season. Marcus Banks ($3.7M), Jalen Rose ($1.5M), and Eric Piatkowski ($1.2M) were more costly that season. $1.1M for a rookie, $6.4M for established players.

    That’s just to address the sold picks that were mentioned. In each case, there were established guys that were brought on in those sameyears for a much higher price tag that the rookies would have cost.

    It does not save money to sell draft picks. The numbers show that.

  • Ryan

    This was definitely spot on and confidence building, for the more logical part of the population anyway. I think that flexibility is gonna be the best tool the suns can use in building this franchise back to a contender. I think babby has his target for free agency(Gordon ) and if they don’t get him stay flexible to pounce on the opportunity’s that are good for the franchise, opportunitys that don’t exist if you don’t excercise discipline.

  • PennyAnd1

    Good luck filling any seats for next season.lol Nash was the reason they were competitive this season, and reason why fans stayed. I hope Nash leaves, so that people and the FOs know what I’m talkin’ about.

    I mourn over this once proud franchise. A franchise that consistently competed & stayed in playoffs. Now the rebuilding begins where this organization will be developing grounds for rookies who’ll eventually end up being traded…We will become the new Warriors, Wolves, Hornets, Bobcats, Wizards, etc…a team spending all their time developing players and got nowhere.

    It’s for me to jump ship. Bye Bye Suns!

  • Scott

    Months ago – probably last year – I noted on VotS that while there are free agents out there, it didn’t look like the Suns were going to get any of the stars. It also didn’t look like there was a favorable trade for Nash. (Deron Williams as the target, maybe, in either scenario.)

    I then said that the Suns might do well to save their powder for the following year, not because there would be stars available, but there might be some quality young players that teams can’t keep because of roster limits and cap limits.

    If the Suns don’t sign a star to a multi-year contract this year, the following year they’ll probably have Hill’s spot to fill, and they’ll be able to clear Warrick’s small salary if they need another roster spot or more cap space. And if they don’t get a star in that year (the summer of 2013), they’ll at least have room to sign any young talent that may be available.

    Nothing much has changed about the situation since then.

  • Matt

    Step 1: Let Steve walk, bring back Grant, Redd, and Lopez. Grant and Michael Redd’s experience and veteran leadership can obviously impact young prospects in a positive way.

    Step 2: Trade Marcin Gortat(Maybe along with Channing Frye) for a couple of 1st RD picks and a expiring contract or a prospect. Hopefully can get something for Aaron Brooks in a sign and trade(even a 2nd rd pick would be okay)

    Step 3: Draft a shooting guard or small forward(Austin Rivers, Jeremy Lamb, Terrence Ross, Quincy Miller, or Terrance Jones) Jones although isn’t really a small forward or shooting guard but he does have a lot of star level talent.

    Step 4: Sign Anthony Randolph, Terrence Williams, Jason Thompson, Spencer Hawes, Lou Williams, Michael Beasley or George Hill. At least one of these guys should be on the roster next year because all of them are very capable players would can make solid contributions to the team during the transition phase. I would include Batum and Eric Gordon in that list but Portland and New Orleans most likely won’t let those guys get away.

    Step 5: Develop a solid young unit next season(assuming it’s successful and we get lucky in the draft and find a star in the making) in the 2013 Summer of free agency guys like Bynum, Tyreke Evans, Dwight Howard, Kevin Martin, Josh Smith, James Harden, Serge Ibaka(OKC probably can only afford to keep one and it’ll probably be Harden). The 2013 class of free agents will be KEY. The bringing together of a couple of those free agents and a nice talent young core the Suns can be back to tier one by 2014-2015.

  • Ryan

    I think Josh Smith could be had this offseason in a lopsided trade. Atlanta can’t afford that payroll, and Horford is the guy they want at pf. Sign and trade Lopez to the Hawks. Thus the Suns are on the good side of a 30 cents of the dollar trade….all because of discipline and flexability.

  • Ryan

    Also I do agree with Matt’s step 4, the Suns need to take more flyers on young guys such as those Matt mentions. Anthony Randolph is exactly where I’d start first. Just dreaming here, but maybe Babby can give Kahn a phone call, tell him the Suns have some veteran leadership available , and flip Warrik in a sign and trade.

  • grover

    If there is anyone dumb enought to take Warrick in trade it would be Kahn. I like this idea. Make the call, Babby!

  • steve

    KKKKKKKAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Sorry, I had to.

  • Ryan

    Another thought on Khan, there is no way Love is staying in Minny after that bone head extension Khan gave to him….an out in what 3 years(after the Lebron and Bosh fiasco)….summer of 2015, who wouldn’t love to see Love in a Suns uniform….if not before then, when Khan makes a panic K-Love for a mid level guy, a protected first rounder, and the token high upside (out of the league in a couple years) guy along with cash trade.

  • Oliver

    Priorities: Dynamic wing player, dynamic PF, draft picks

    Step 1: Amnesty Josh Childress, unless there is some sort of cap-math/trade value thing I don’t understand that makes it advantageous to keep him. Let Hill walk.

    Step 2: Put Frye/Warrick/Gortat on the trading block. Get younger players and draft picks in return. Gortat would have to be a GREAT deal or else keep him, he is good value for money.

    Step 3: Go hard after Eric Gordon. He is the only player worth a big contract in FA. If you don’t think you can get him or don’t want him, go hard after a moving up in draft for Lamb/MKG/Beal/Barnes. If that fails, hold on to your check book and go for better deal in 2013.

    Step 4: Make a dynamic PF a priority… draft one if you can get a high pick (TRobinson, PJIII, Drummond). If you can’t get a earlier pick go after JJ Hickson/Jason Thompson/Maresse Speights/Ersan IIyosova or maybe even K Humphries (don’t over pay)

    Step 5: If steps 1-4 work then resign Nash. If not let him walk and go after George Hill/Patty Mills/Aaron Brooks/Randy Foye to replace him.

    Step 5: If steps 1-4 fail go for value swing and bigs like they did last summer. Short term deals: Shannon Brown/Budinger/Jordan Hill/Jason Maxiell/Elton Brand/Brandon Rush/Courtney Lee.

  • Oliver

    …oh yeah… if you can’t move up in draft and are stuck with 14th pick… go for Zeller/Marshall/Sullinger/PJIII/Ross

    This draft is deep, so an extra 2nd round pick could produce a diamond if the rough. Get one.

  • Scott

    @Oliver -

    Just so you know, the Suns have no 2nd round pick this year, per Blanks.

    RealGM says the Knicks have the Suns’ 2nd round pick, protected to #55. So if the pick should fall in the #56-60 range, I suppose the Suns would have a pick after all.

  • Matt

    The Suns tend to make a lot of just completely irrational decisions when it comes to the off-season. I think the best signing the Suns have done in the past few off seasons was the signing of Grant Hill back in 2008, and since I’m just as big of a Suns fan as any out there…THIS MAKES ME BEYOND NERVOUS. The Suns’ move to not bring back A’mare was a smart one and I was one of the few who actually agreed with it, he couldn’t rebound and if it weren’t for Steve STAT would be a 20 PPG scorer as oppose to 25. HOWEVER AND THIS IS THE BIGGIE!! I HATED THE FACT that they signed a bunch of role players for huge contracts assuming that Steve Nash can turn those guys into all stars, LIKE SERIOUSLY TAKE MINUTE HERE…WHO ON THIS BEAUTIFUL GREEN EARTH WOULD OFFER HAKIM WARRICK A 4 YEAR DEAL?????????!!!!! I HIGHLY DOUBT THAT THERE WAS ANOTHER TEAM OUT THERE THAT OFFERED ANYTHING CLOSE TO THAT SO WHY DID THE SUNS MAKE SUCH A AWFUL OFFER. Then there Josh Childress who I love but let’s face it a high flyer that just returned from a two year stint in Europe and you offer him a 5 year 30M dollar deal??? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? Anyways to sum all this up, the Suns made done a great job however since that awful off-season where I just wanted to drive from New York down to Phoenix and curse out the front office and egg the entire place. The Suns’ who have been winners since they joined this league IF they want to continue that winning culture this off-season as well as THIS draft will be what defines the Suns for the next decade because most superstars are locked in for multi-year contracts and the ones that aren’t probably have no interest in coming to Phoenix. So we have to start where we always do THE DRAFT, making good trades, bringing in young prospects, and signing veterans who have been there and done that to low risk(1 or 2 year deals with maybe a team or player option). Tyreke Evans should be someone I’d expect the Suns to pursuit HEAVILY this off-season because he’d fill a lot of holes that we have on this team and along with a lottery pick we’d be in pretty good shape for the future.

  • Scott

    @Matt –

    I like Josh and Hakim, but I agree their contracts were puzzling. Worse, however, was the trade of Barbosa for Turkoglu, because that could have been a real albatross, killing the Suns for years.

    So far as I can tell, the signings of Childress and Warrick haven’t really hurt the Suns yet, because it’s not like the Suns passed up on great players they could have got instead. What we’ve seen is that the star players right now are locked up, and there just isn’t anyone available.

    If anyone has a clear case they can show where the signings of Warrick and Childress kept the Suns from getting someone else, I’d like to know about it. Not that I’m challenging someone to “prove me wrong” … I would just like to know who the Suns missed out on, that’s all.

  • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    @Scott There’s always an opportunity cost when making any move. You could make an argument that they should have tried to overpay a guy like David Lee or Boozer instead of Hedo/Childress/Warrick or as bad of a contract as he is himself, Amare. Since this is largely a theoretical exercise, pick out any other 2010 free agent that they could have potentially signed.

    Last year likely would have been the same thing, but if they didn’t re-sign Hill and didn’t have Childress/Warrick, they may have been able to pick up a solid FA last season. If they didn’t have those guys this season, lop $10 million off their salary commitments and they could be around $36 million under the cap and could do some real FA damage on top of signing Nash.

    Since great players are so seldom available, I see your point that they have not been forced to pass up on somebody “great” because of Childress/Warrick, but my oh my would they be in an insanely good position this summer without either of them. And the good news is if they amnesty Childress, they are just paying $4 mil to Warrick this season away from that position.

    • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

      Also, at Wednesday’s thing Babby said, “If it allows us to do something that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to do I’m sure we would consider it,” speaking about the amnesty clause. So amnesty could certainly wipe out one of those mistakes.

  • Scott

    @Michael -

    Is there some kind of arcane cap / luxury tax rule, or perhaps an unobvious consequence of well-known rules, that essentially forces teams like the Suns to maintain a certain high salary level, or forfeit the ability to spend that much?

    Over the years I thought I’d heard oblique references to something of that nature, but never any clear explanation. Kerr would say something like, “It’s SO important to make sure you keep the salaries high.”

    I’d assume it has to do with allowances in the rules for getting and staying over the cap.

    • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

      @Scott No, there’s no rule that forces you to keep salaries high or risk forfeiting that ability, but there is now a salary floor whereby teams must spend 85 percent of the cap this season and 90 percent starting next year, as Larry Coon explains. Previously that was 75 percent. I’m not sure what Kerr was talking about specifically there, but I assume he was trying to counterbalance the “cheap” reputation in some way.

      If you’re going to keep your powder dry, as Babby put it, you just need to fill out the roster with one-year deals. In that case obviously you delay the seemingly eventual amnesty decision on Childress to when you need the cap space. If the Suns were to amnesty him this year they would have an absolutely absurd amount of space, most in the league by far. In that sense, the current regime is doing something right cap management-wise. Next year Warrick is off the books, so if the Suns wanted to they could do the one-year thing with everyone again and be major players next summer.

  • Cdub

    Phoenix was so foolish to let Amare go. Slightly over paying a star is ok when you have the pieces in place to win a championship! Phoenix has been one of the best in the league for years and would have remained so without trading so much. They were like the Colts…as good as the best in the league, it just had not clicked for them yet. Their turn was coming. They started messing it up when they traded Sean Marion. They should never have made any of the trades since then. The chemistry and exciting basketball was amazing. They would have eventually beaten the Lakers and Spurs…much like the OKC is coming around, etc.

    Best thing for the Suns is to bring back Stat, J Rich, and Aaron Brooks…we would get back to best bench in the league and as good as anybody starting 5 (Grant needs to retire).

  • Ty-Sun

    The only team that will make a big splash in the FA market this year is the team that signs Deron Williams.

    That won’t be the Suns.

    There are several very good FAs that the Suns could and should make plays for that could significantly improve the team next year even without another “star” player on the roster. If they can bring in 2-3 of those players at reasonable salaries – and keep Nash – then they could make significant jump in the standings as a team. Then you have the uncertainty of the draft and trades.

    Overpaying FAs is the best way to make them untradable. The Suns don’t want anymore of those contracts… and the Suns certainly aren’t the only team with a few of them! I applaud the cautious attitude they say they are taking this year.

    I don’t expect the Suns to make all perfect moves during this offseason to improve the team but I don’t think that they are really more than a few good – not great – players away from being the 4th or 5th seed in the playoffs next year.

  • SHAAZAAM

    I say the Suns clear out some of the lesser players and go for Dwight Howard and Eric Gordon.

    S.Nash – S.Telfair (draft a PG)
    E.Gordon – S.Brown
    G.Hill – J.Dudley
    M.Morris – C.Frye (draft a PF)
    D.Howard – M.Gortat

  • steve

    That would be a legit contender right there. I’d worry about their ability to defend (3 weak defenders in Nash, Gordon, and Morris and 2 extremely strong defenders in Hill and Howard), but I like the thought. It’s obviously better than what the Suns have going for them right now.

  • Mark

    Here are the moves that I would do.

    1. Amnestied Josh Childress, or trade him if some team is willing, ha…

    2. Trade Warrick & 2nd Round Draft pick to Dallas for Shawn Marion. Dallas is trying to get rid of him, and the Suns could take on $3M more a year for a better player than Warrick. Marion provides his rebounding/defense and doesn’t need the ball in his hand.

    3. Resign Nash. Don’t get carried away with the cost, but be fair. 3 year deal in the $17M range ($7M first year, $5.5M Second, and $4.5M in last)

    4. Try and sign Lamar Odom. The Arizona Republic mentioned it, and it is close to L.A. This scenario would only work if he is willing to make it work (Attitude Adjustment).

    5. Resign Telfair, Hill (if healthy), and possibly Lopez (if no other options are better)

    6. F.A. Signing – I will state there are only a couple of players the Suns should target. They shouldn’t stretch to overpay a guy that isn’t Dwight Howard or Deron Wiliams. I don’t think either of these guys will even look at Phoenix unless Nash starts recruiting. Suns good ship back Gortat, Frye, Dudley, and a pick for Howard, but highly doubtful. Here are some other options:

    A. Kevin Garnett – 3 year deal ranging in the $25M range

    B. OJ Mayo – 5 Year deal ($7-8M a year)

    C. Ray Allen – If Garnett comes, why wouldn’t he…

    D. Michael Beasley – I wouldn’t offer any big contract, but maybe a mid level

    7. Future Pick – JAMES HARDEN – There is no way Oklahoma will be able to sign Harden to the type of money that the Suns good offer in a year. This strategy would require to hold off on any long term investments until next year. Well worth it. He eventually good take over and play point guard after Nash.

    8. Possible Resigns – Shannon Brown/Michael Redd. I don’t think you can have both come back because both will want more money. 1 maybe

    Realistic Line-up:

    C – Gortat, Lopez
    PF – (Garnett or Odom), Frye, Morris
    SF – Marion, Hill, Morris
    SG – Mayo, Dudley, Draft Pick
    PG – Nash, Telfair

    I checked the salaries and this is a $66M team salary with Garnett, or $62.7 with Odom (assuming he gets a contract in the amount he is suppose to get paid next year).

    The Best thing about this line-up is that the contracts that you have taken on aren’t lasting that long. Marion has 2 years, Odom/Garnett 3, Nash 3, Hill 1. You still could go after Harden in a year if you wanted, or could dump contracts in trades at the deadline.

    Good moves need to be made in order to keep going. I like the Suns targeting SG Rivers or Lamb in the draft, but they probably wont be there.

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